The Belle of Belgrave Square: Belles of London-Book 2

Publication October 11, 2022-by Berkley Romance Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Belle of Belgrave Square, book 2 in The Belles of London series, is a treat for fans of Historical Romance with a splash of fairy tale elements. Reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, watch for good vs. evil, problems to be solved, supernatural beings, and the element of three. Don’t forget the moral and happy ending!

Main character, Captain Jasper Blunt, a battle-scarred soldier from the Crimean War, is considered a war hero, but is he good or evil? Mimi weaves in just enough of his hidden past to keep readers guessing. The beautiful Julia Wychwood, critically impaired by anxiety and her wealthy, invalid parents is imprisoned at Belgrave Square. Deprived of pets, except for her beloved horse, Cossack, Julia gains confidence through riding. Her anxiety is relieved by reading, stashing a novel into her reticule and escaping into libraries when attending parties. Readers will admire this Victorian girl’s resourceful spunk!

Problems are twofold. Captain Blunt needs a wealthy wife’s dowry to restore his dilapidated estate in Yorkshire, and Julia is desperate to escape the evil Dr. Cordingley, whose bloodletting is slowly killing her. Mimi Matthews’ tale is filled with the harrowing details of Julia’s daily life and the heartwarming descriptions of Captain Blunt’s eventful life with children and limited, aging staff at Goldfinch Hall.

Captain Blunt’s children fulfill the element of three and his allegedly haunted Goldfinch Hall, the supernatural.  Like the thick, luscious plaits in Julia’s hair, Mimi has braided the Captain’s secrets into the plot and readers will be as anxious as Julia while searching for reasons to believe in him. Seeking lessons learned and hoping for a happy ending make The Belle of Belgrave Square as fulfilling as a favorite fairy tale.

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

PURCHASE LINKS:

BOOKSHOP.ORG: https://bookshop.org/books/the-belle-of-belgrave-square/9780593337158

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-belle-of-belgrave-square-mimi-matthews/1140838943

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Belle-Belgrave-Square-Belles-London-ebook/dp/B09Q8H5VB4

Wherever the Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms

Happy Publication Day- October 18, 2022 by Lake Union Publishing

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Kelly Harms delivers another “sink or swim” adventure of a woman on the brink of a new life. Her main character, Becca, is newly divorced and faced with her past but willing to brace for the future. This tale of a mother and daughter sailing from Maine to Miami takes on a wide range of watery emotions. Becca’s learning to sail hardly compares to the gritty truths and grief at letting go of 22 years of marriage or the ecstasy and joy of discovering the real person below all those layers of the past. Kelly Harm’s novel brings new meaning to finding “the wind in your sails!” The forecast is smooth sailing ahead with Wherever the Wind Takes Us.

Other Books by Kelly Harms:

Life is short. Read Deliciously.

That’s the message that guides Kelly as she writes what Booklist dubs her “Witty, lively, and au courant,” novels set in the lives of everyday women living outside their everyday circumstances. Combining her trademark “spunky leading ladies you can take to the beach” (Fitness Magazine) with “an honest look at weighty topics (Kirkus Reviews), Kelly keeps readers laughing and thinking year after year, across a dozen languages and every imaginable format. Her works have been #1 bestsellers at Amazon and Audible and garnered more than 40,000 reviews.

A former literary agent and associate editor at HarperCollins Publishers, Kelly speaks on creative living and a life in publishing from both sides of the editor’s desk, at libraries, book clubs, festivals, and wherever good books are sold. She also enjoys working with young adult writers through partnerships with public schools and libraries.” https://kellyharms.com/

Contact: kelly@kellyharms.com

In The Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore

Publication Date: October 4, 2022 by Shadow Mountain Publishing

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Are Free-Spirited Royals Your Cup of Tea?” When this question appeared as the subject line in an email from Laurel Ann Nattress, Director at Austen Prose PR, I HAD to read this novel! Readers will adore Princess Louise! Here’s my review:

In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather Moore opens with a journal entry from Queen Victoria on the birth of Princess Louise, her sixth child. Now it’s 1861, and that beautiful baby girl is twelve years old. Moore provides readers with an immediate emotional touchpoint as a personal letter or journal entry is shared at the beginning of each chapter.

Heather Moore’s use of comparison biographies is highly evident as she shares details of Princess Louise and her eight siblings. Readers gain insight into birth order, rivalries, and conflict.  Moore focuses on individual reactions to father, Prince Albert’s death, marriages, political relations, and the women’s suffrage movement.  She also brings out Louise’s likeable, relatable personality through her relationship with Sybil Grey. The young girls become “true friends” and Louise gains access to media, experiences in social settings, and honest conversations.

Princess Louise’s quest to become a sculptor flares to life as she convinces the Queen to allow a studio for sculpting and art teachers are hired, not a traditional path for young ladies. Princess Louise is coming of age so finding a marriage partner becomes the novel’s focus and the Queen’s quest. The parade of eligible men at breakfasts and dinners, plus sibling intervention wreak havoc on the royal plans and is quite entertaining. There is much suspense with the impending match and marriage contract; a reminder that one is “marrying into a complicated family and royal dynasty with traditions and expectations.”

Fans of all things Royal will thoroughly appreciate the accomplishments of Princess Louise as she becomes an independent thinker, a champion of change, and develops her own opinions despite being “in the shadow of a queen.”

LINK HERE TO A GORGEOUS WEBSITE : “Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any previous British monarch and is known as the Victorian era.” https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/histories/women-in-history/queen-victoria

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than
seventy publications, including The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. She has lived on
both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended
school abroad at the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican School of
Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical
research.

PURCHASE LINKS:

AMAZON; https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Queen-Heather-B-Moore-ebook/dp/B09YZ4R989

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-shadow-of-a-queen-heather-b-moore/1141018346

BOOKSHOP.ORG: https://bookshop.org/p/books/in-the-shadow-of-a-queen-heather-b-moore/18398384

A Place to Land by Lauren K. Denton

Publication: October 4, 2022 from Harper Muse Publishing

“SOUTHERN GRIT AND GRACE
HUMOR, HOPE, AND LOVE”

For sisters Violet and Trudy, a hidden past isn’t past at all.https://laurenkdenton.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Lauren K. Denton is a Southern author whose wonderful stories of love, belonging, and finding home are set in fictional towns with characters richly drawn from her own life and imagination. In the South “your people” are the link to the past and a key to the present! Lauren’s “people” are written with deep, meaningful lives that evoke a wide range of emotions.  

A Place to Land is the story of how love and a promise to a mother impacts the lives of sisters Violet and Trudy Figg.  Violet, whose life is on hold to protect her sister, fills her days surveying birds for the Coastal Alabama Audubon Society.  Trudy, who only communicates by writing notes, silently creates artwork for their shop, Two Sisters Art in Sugar Bend, Alabama. Now the past Violet and Trudy have tried to bury bumps right into the present when after forty years a sunken boat resurfaces on the muddy, weed filled banks of the winding Little River.

Lauren K. Denton’s plot is filled with secrets and winds around as many bends as the Little River. Denton’s novel is chocked full of stories of bird watching, lost love, hurtful tales of the “friendliest guy in town’, and a teenage victim of the foster care system. With a mysterious boat, teens Maya and Tyler searching for courage to leave their present life to forge a future, and the Figg sisters hoping love transcends past decisions, readers will get a warm, safe sense of Southern belonging and what it truly means to finally find A Place to Land.

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent

Tastes Better from Scratch by Lauren Allen

Publishes September 27, 2022

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Remember the cartoon of the confused young bride searching the grocery aisles for “scratch”? Lauren Allen can help with that! She hosts a popular food blog and website, Tastes Better from Scratch, and now her well tested fan & family favorites are available in her debut cookbook. Lauren believes that “good food is essential for our physical and financial health and our social well-being.”

This cookbook is well organized with 116 recipes, colorful photos, and step-by-step instructions. Tips for key kitchen tools, ideas for getting kids or grandkids to eat the same meals as adults, and even QR codes that connect to how-to videos make this cookbook the perfect choice.

Categories include Breakfasts, Muffins & Breads, Dinners, Soups, and Desserts. The alphabetical index is also helpful with live links if using the digital edition. Tastes Better from Scratch makes a wonderful wedding gift, but also a beautiful addition to a seasoned cook’s collection.

I tried the German Pancakes. Next time I’ll use a bit smaller pan and lower the oven temperature. Delicious, as voted by my family!

German Pancakes by Dorothy

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner

Publishes October 18, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

When We Had Wings is a riveting account of the Japanese takeover of the Philippines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 1941, told seamlessly by three authors through the lives of three nurses.

The three nurses representing the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Filipina community, Penny, Eleanor, and Lita, experience hospitals with few supplies, orphans facing starvation, and the horrors of prisons and internment camps in Manila, the Bataan Peninsula, and Corregidor Island.  The Philippine assignment was considered ‘paradise’ at the time each enlisted but after the declaration of war they must come to grips with atrocities and realities of warfare.

The history of the Philippines, the political and social upheavals, along with demolished cities and details of conflicts add to compelling personal accounts as the three nurses are separated for years and wonder who survives. The detailed descriptions of their personal contributions, experiences and sacrifices evoke feelings ranging from pure disgust to extreme delight, as they became the first female prisoners of World War ll.

General MacArthur pledged “I shall return!” This commitment keeps hopeful readers interned with the “Angels of the Bataan and Corregidor” until the tanks roll in, hatches open, and they hear in a distinct American accent, “Hello, folks”. God Bless America!

#22in22Challenge The Wild Detectives

Visit #16 Dallas, Texas-Bishop Arts District

“Two birds with one stone.” We had an appointment at The Book Doctor in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, so decided to visit The Wild Detectives Bookstore in the same trip. This is an independent bookstore with tables & seating for those wanting to read or work using the WiFi, outdoor patio seating in the backyard for cooler weather and author events, and a bar for cocktails or coffee for cozy reading inside. Everything from Fiction & Nonfiction to Poetry & Books in Spanish is available, along with online ordering. Located in the beautiful Bishop Arts district with lots of boutiques on tree lined streets to wander in and out of along with restaurants aplenty!

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri M. Brown

Published January 5, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Like sunflower seeds that rest dormant under winter snow, Teri M. Brown’s Sunflowers Beneath the Snow reveals the underlying strength of three generations of women living in Ukraine between 1973-2021. Ivanna, a grandmother, Yevtsye, her daughter, and Ionna, the granddaughter share their stories of survival and accomplishments despite political upheaval, economic hardships, and social and religious disparities.

In the opening pages Ivanna’s husband, Lyaksandro, is abducted for his efforts to squash Communism and restore the traditions of Ukraine his father instilled in him as a youth. Teri Brown weaves the history of the USSR and the customs and culture of Ukraine with the personal beliefs of Ivanna as she stays true to the Party. Readers are treated to descriptions of Christmas celebrations of the past as hunger pangs continue for parents and children as they forage for food and burn furniture to stay alive.  

Themes of forgetting and forgiveness fill the emotional dialogue and personal religious conflicts between Ivanna and her daughter, Yevtsye, as they navigate tumultuous decades of personal separation, political unrest, and Ukraine’s declaration of independence. Through Ionna’s experiences truths are exposed and a timeline of historical developments helps the reader internalize the reality behind personal and political struggles.

Based on true events, the individual decisions and reactions to situations create “astonishing solutions more powerful than fiction.” In the fall of 2022 as the media reports daily on military progress in Ukraine, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is an extremely emotional, currently relevant educational novel presented through the lens of one family and their extraordinary sacrifices over a lifetime.  Highly recommended.

Sunflowers are easy to find in Ukraine. The sunflower seeds brought by early explorers from America, provide food, oil, medicine, and dyes. Fields of flowers, carved into furniture or embroidered on clothing; the sunflower is the national symbol of Ukraine.

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M. Brown now calls the North Carolina coast home. In 2020, she and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine. Learn more at www.terimbrown.com.

#22in22Challenge Galveston Book Shop

Visit #15: Galveston Island, Texas

This was my second visit to The Galveston Book Shop. I purchased a book on the Maceo family who plays a large part in The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird. https://gratefulreader.home.blog/2022/05/03/last-dance-on-the-starlight-pier-by-sarah-bird/

So a trip to Maceo’s Spice & Import was a must! It’s a step back in time with a vast array of spices, and a restaurant, too! The muffuletta was recommended and a treat for lunch at the beach.

The Portraitist – A Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap

Publication August 30, 2022

This novel is the result of seven years of research, writing, and revising. I’m excited to share it with you! Kirkus Reviews called it “an imaginative work that brings the story of a little-known artist to vivid life.” Susanne Dunlap

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In The Portraitist Susanne Dunlap explores the sumptuous world of art in Paris in the 18th century during the tumultuous years leading to the French Revolution. Readers are introduced to the current social and political issues through struggling female artist, Adélaïde Labille-Guitard, and her rival Vigée Le Brun, well known for her royal connections and commissioned portraits.

Dunlap’s impeccable research shines a light on the historical backdrop of the storming of the Bastille and the world of the Royalists and the Jacobins. The sounds of angry chants, loud drumming, and marching feet keep readers seeking an end to the bloodshed as the Revolution comes alive on the pages. Dunlap weaves the details of the artists’ lives and attempts at reform of women’s acceptance in the Académie Royale with studios at the Louvre and the palace of Versailles. Marie Antoinette, the Guillotine, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Robespierre add to the suspenseful political intrigue.  

The spicy details of Adélaïde’s desperate, dangerous solution to earning money, decisions she makes to survive and ideals she’s willing to fight for, make her a character that women will connect with emotionally and socially.  The pressures of women in the 18th century are not so unlike those women face today.  The Portraitist is filled with luscious period details, the French Revolution and Adélaïde’s attention to advancing women in the arts while seeking equal rights in the Académie Royale. Truly a French masterpiece. C’est très magnifique!  

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, Paris 1749–1803 Paris) Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788), 1785 Oil on canvas; 83 x 59 1/2 in. (210.8 x 151.1 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5) https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436840?ft=Adelaide+Labille-Guiard

History is my muse. I love writing, dogs, cycling, and writing. Did I say writing already?

I’m fascinated by the women of the past, how they lived, how they negotiated with the conditions of their time to thrive as best they could.

I’ve written about real historical women and invented characters who might have lived then.